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Making Bigger Hearts More Independent for a 5th Grade Homeschool Student

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Dear Carrie,

We are finishing Unit 3 of Bigger Hearts…, and we are really enjoying it! The only issue I’m having is I’m doing it with a 5th grader.  I feel I need to make Bigger Hearts more independent for my 5th grader, who needs more independent work. My son would fit perfectly into Preparing Hearts…, but we really wanted to do a year of American History. The more I look at it, the more I really think I should have chosen Preparing Hearts… for my son. I looked at the placement chart, scope and sequence, etc. However, I focused focused so much on American History that I never really paid attention to those like I should have.

The only areas he really doesn’t place in Preparing… for are Poetry, Math, and Reading. Should I just save Bigger for my younger son next year and do Preparing for my older son? I’m really starting to think that may be best. I want his Science and History to be at his level. I know the extensions bring it up to level some, but I need him working more independently. How can I make Bigger Hearts… more independent for my 5th grader, or should I have him do Preparing Hearts…?

Sincerely,

“Please Help Me Make Bigger Hearts More Independent”

Dear “Please Help Me Make Bigger Hearts More Independent,”

When we did Bigger Hearts with our son, we looked at it as a year of training. We taught him to read from the guide and to do his own readings. This really helped my son be quite independent and was excellent preparation for learning how to follow written directions!

Charlotte Mason says a child of 9, who is able, should read his/her own books.

I had him do his own history readings and science readings. Charlotte Mason says a child of 9 who is able to read his/her own books should, and mine could. He would get me when he was done reading, and we would do the follow-up activity together. However, before getting me, he read the directions for the activity in the bottom left box. Additionally, he was responsible for getting everything ready for me as best as possible. So, by the time I arrived, we were ready to go!

The timeline, art, note booking, vocabulary, and Bible copywork can be done independently.

He did his timeline, art, notebooking, Cheerful Cursive, and vocabulary (eventually) on his own, reading right from the guide. I just checked them when he was done. He practiced his Bible verse on his own and did his Bible verse copywork on his own. My son also read over any questions in the Bible study box. Likewise, he thought about the answers prior to me coming to discuss with him. Then, we did the Bible Study discussion. We listened to the hymns at lunch with all of the kiddos and me singing along.

English and Math can be semi-independently done.

My son read over his English lesson and started on it by the time I joined him. We always did at least half together though, to make sure that he got it. He began his math on his own, and I’d go over the textbook lesson with him after he’d read it.

Drawn into the Heart of Reading needs to be more teacher-directed.

I did formally set aside a specific time each day to teach Drawn into the Heart of Reading. This is because DITHOR is such an important area to cover well! When kiddos learn to think beneath the surface of what is read and learn to read with discernment, two important skills are learned.

Students can do the science quite independently, with the teacher just making sure to go through assigned follow-ups.

My son honestly did the science completely independently. I checked in with him to make sure he did his lab sheets correctly and performed the experiment correctly. I did listen to his oral narrations with the science book in hand. Sometimes, he narrated to a younger sibling (with me looking over his shoulder).

Fifth graders should do the Extension Package readings and assignments independently.

The Extension Pack readings are meant to be done independently. From what you’ve shared previously, I agree having him work on his writing and spelling skills this year is important. The level of writing in Preparing Hearts continues to rise. Placement in Preparing is based on the skills noted in the first page of the placement chart. You can see these skills include a good dose of writing and spelling. Without those skills in place, moving into Preparing would only suit him in the area of reading material. The practice of core skills needed for good writing may be lost in the shuffle.

Adding independence to Bigger Hearts seems to make it a good placement for your 5th grade son.

These are just my thoughts, and you will certainly know best! However, I wanted to give you some food for thought on the many needed skills woven within Bigger Hearts. With our son who was older when he completed Bigger Hearts…, the independence I’ve mentioned worked well. When he began, Preparing Hearts…, he was ready!

Blessings,

Carrie

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